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How to Clean Aquarium Sand

Updated on August 24, 2011
How to Clean Aquarium Sand. Don't let old myths fool you, sand is very easy to clean.
How to Clean Aquarium Sand. Don't let old myths fool you, sand is very easy to clean.

How to Clean Aquarium Sand

Many people are scared away from using sand in their aquariums because for some reason they feel that sand is harder to clean and maintain. Little do they know that sand is actually easier to maintain, and barely different to clean than regular gravel. Not to mention, sand is highly beneficial and even recommended as the only substrate for some aquatic species. In this article, I'm going to set things straight and tell you just how easy it is to clean aquarium sand.


Materials You'll Need:

  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Gravel Vacuum
  • Pair of Chopsticks


How to Clean Aquarium Sand:

If you're a good fish keeper, you should be doing water changes at least twice a month. During these changes, it is important to remove any excess food and waste from your sand. Here's how to do it:

  1. Using your Gravel Vacuum, begin siphoning water into your waste water bucket. To clean all the waste from the sand, all you have to do is hold the Vacuum over the bottom of the tank until you've found a height where waste is removed, and the sand remains. Unlike gravel, where you have to suck down into the rocks to remove waste, sand traps everything on the surface so all you have to do is hover above it. If you forced the vacuum into the sand, you'll just end up sucking it all out. Once you've hovered around the top of your sand, it should look brand new!
  2. This next step is a quick maintenance process that must be done with sand. Take your chopsticks or your fingers and stir around the sand, making sure to get every area. It may seem weird, but it is necessary because sand can develop anaerobic conditions from small amounts of decaying matter trapped within. If you don't stir up the sand, it will usually develop a black layer. Within this layer are gasses that could potentially harm your fish. Stirring around the sand prevents this from happening. If you do by chance let your sand go unstirred, don't panic. Just stir small patches daily until the whole tank is caught up again.


I hope that with the information presented that you'll feel more comfortable using sand as your aquarium substrate. You'll benefit from its beauty and your fish will love you for it!


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    • thranax profile image

      Andrew 6 years ago from Rep Boston MA

      Great Hub on how to clean the sand in aquariums! Most people don't do this correctly and it hurts both the fish and the environment that is made within the tank (ecosystem). While many use gravel so they don't have to clean it as often this is really helpful!